A patient's experience with the Swedish Digestive Health Network

October 07, 2014

We recently received this post from a patient who asked us to share her story and her experiences with Dr. Schembre and Dr. Tschirhart. Thank you, Yevette, for sharing your story with us!

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Dec 2nd, 2012 I was out of town doing some promotion for work when I collapsed in my hotel room. I went to the local hospital ER. They found I had a gallstone lodged in my common bile duct. As they attempted to remove this, the surgeon ripped my intestine. This created a whole host of life threatening problems. After 5 days I was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Tschirhart was assigned my case. By June I was stable enough for surgery. Dr. Schembre referred to this surgery as a “Leap of Faith”. There was a team of 4 surgeons involved in this surgery. Their concern that I may not survive was apparent. I actually said goodbye to my 17 year old daughter before this surgery. After having me in surgery for only a few minutes he told my family that he didn’t think there was anything he could do for me & that my insides look like paper mache and were very fragile. But he never gave up. I ended up with 9 different drainage tubes in my abdomen along with a J tune, G tube, every tube possible I think. When I drank, the fluid would go in and then come out several of the tubes. Dr. Schembre from GI worked with Dr. Tschirhart to help make my treatment plans. In October I was in a better situation to endure another surgery. Dr. Tschirhart explained exactly what needed to be done & explained the “Best Case Scenario” that he hoped he could perform. Fortunately he was able to achieve what he set out to do. I ended up with 3 major surgeries and countless procedures.

Finally in December of 2013 they wanted me to go to rehab but I insisted on recovering at home in Marysville. I felt if there was a chance I was not going to make it I wanted to die at home. Dr. Tschirhart assured me that if I had trouble and had to go to my local hospital he would have me airlifted immediately back to Swedish. As soon as I got home and on my couch I felt better! I was discharged Dec 18, 2013 after a total of 381 days in the hospital.

Recently (August of 2014) I was able to return to work and can drive too! I did have trouble this past April when my side split open and went into Swedish ER. I commented to my friend that I needed to call Dr. Tschirhart so he could come get me. The intake gal overheard me and said doctors never do that. I tried to tell her that Dr. Tschirhart would. The ER was trying to gather info as to what had happened to me. My situation is too much to explain so I kept referring them to my file. I was very frustrated. As they were questioning me I saw this hand come through the door and slowly he walked in. There he was! I instantly started crying. He immediately had me transferred up to the 10th floor, order CT, medication etc. He came for me as promised. I knew he would.

Dr. Tshirhart always told me the truth no matter how difficult the news was. He came and saw me even when there was nothing medical to discuss. Dr. Schembre did too. There was an employee named Pete that also had surgery with Dr. Tschirhart. He felt Dr. Tschirhart saved his life and he would come see me often to help me trust and believe I was going to be ok too. Pete doesn’t work at Swedish anymore, but when I was discharged, Dr. Tschirhart sent him a picture of me leaving the hospital! There are a few more people I would thank. Rich the chaplain also visited. At first it was scary he was coming to see me, but he was wonderful. The day before I was discharged, Swedish finance people came to discuss my bill. They let me know it was a total of about 4 million dollars. Rachel, a social worker came to help with my transition home. We talked about my bill and she told me I could apply for financial assistance. She encouraged me to write out what happened to me and if approved, Swedish would cover 20 – 80% of my bill. Well within a couple days, I got a letter that Swedish was covering my hospital bills 100%. It was a true gift in so many ways. I had lost my job and still don’t have my kids back. I have no idea how I would have paid those bills.

I am alive and now have a fair amount of discomfort because my intestines and organs have been literally “rearranged”! They believe my gallbladder is still in there, but it is too risky to go in and take it out. I had the final tube that Dr. Tschirhart instructed me to slowly remove. I will get one more CT scan to see if I am good to go.

I made the t-shirts because I wanted Dr. Tchirhart and Dr. Schembre to have something to touch to remind them what they did for me & to know how much they mean to me. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. I hope they keep them and it reminds them of me and how grateful I truly am. Thank you is something you tell the gal at the coffee stand when she hands you your latte. Those words do not hold what I feel for my doctors at Swedish. I lived because of them, my children have their mother because of them and I want everyone to know. I don’t believe I would have had the same outcome if I was anywhere else!